(via Nashville) Nicklas Jensen (LW/RW) The Senators could trade this pick to move up earlier in the draft. If they select look for Ottawa to take Nicklas Jensen. When Jensen has the puck, he can be the most dangerous player on the ice. He possesses excellent offensive instincts. He has the speed, the size, the touch and the shot, but needs to improve his game away from the puck. He has also been criticized for his lack of toughness and average skating ability. Regardless, this Oshawa General was very consistent down the stretch and is one of the hottest prospects heading into the draft. Denmark is starting to become an interesting place to look for hockey talent with Frans Nielsen
, Jannik Hansen
, Lars Eller
, Peter Regin
, Mikkel Boddker, defenseman Philip Larsen
and now Nicklas Jensen.
Joe Morrow (D) Originally tabbed as a physical stay at home defenseman, scouts have been surprised by Morrow's improved skating game. The Portland Winterhawk has worked hard this past season on improving his footwork to cement himself as a capable two-way defenseman. Morrow registered a solid 49-point campaign while establishing himself as a tough fighter in the WHL. An injury plagued junior career may cause some NHL teams to shy away from the defenseman. The Ducks picked up a great blueliner last season in Cam Fowler
and can now afford to watch Morrow develop.
Brandon Saad (LW) The Pittsburgh Penguins have a lack of depth at the wing position in the NHL. Saad is a great two-way forward who is responsible in all zones. He is physically ready to make the jump to the NHL, which is rare, but the rest of his game could use a little work. Saad was expected by many to breeze through his first season as a Saginaw Spirit and at the halfway point it appeared that way with twenty goals. The second half of the season was a different story as he only registered seven goals. The talent is there, Saad just needs a little bit of grooming. Look for Saad to spend another year in the OHL. He is a high risk/high reward selection.
Jonas Brodin (D). The Detroit Red Wings will need some help on the blueline in the years to come as Nicklas Lidstrom
cannot last forever. The Red Wings love going to Europe in the draft and this year should be no exception. There are two players to choose from at this time, Jonas Brodin and Oscar Klefbom. Both are Swedish and Brodin is projected to be selected ahead of his teammate Klefbom. Many scouts believe the two to be very similar players, it will be interesting to see if this projection holds true. In 42 games this year Brodin finished with four assists, but keep in mind he was a mere teenager playing on the best team in all of Sweden. He displayed his strong skating and vision when called upon to play very important minutes for the Swedish national team in the world juniors. Jonas is not an overly physical defenseman, rather he relies mostly on his skating and puck moving skills. He is a prototypical Detroit selection and they will take their time in developing the Swede.
(via Philadelphia) Ty Rattie (RW). Should the Maple Leafs decide not to trade up look for them to take a skilled Ty Rattie at this time. Rattie is a work in progress with a lot of upside. He possesses the raw talent needed to succeed at the higher level such as crisp passing and a strong shot, but seriously lacks in size and strength. Although he is an elusive skater that plays with an edge, the Portland Winterhawk has been forced to play a lot of hockey on the perimeter. If he can improve his defense and his strength, he should make the transition nicely. The Maple Leafs have plenty of truculence in their lineup so the skill of Rattie is an asset they could use.
Jamie Oleksiak (D). As 28 teams sit and watch the Stanley Cup Final, you can be sure almost all of them would love to have Zdeno Chara
patrolling their blue line. Many of those teams will therefore have a hard time passing up on Oleksiak, a six foot, seven inch, 244 pound monster. Scouts say Oleksiak has soft hands for such a big man and has the potential to fill an offensive roll in the future. Oleksiak made the jump to the college level with Northeastern last season and scouts were very pleased with his seamless transition. The salary cap and the increased speed of the game has made versatile big men a treasured commodity. Washington will grab him here if he has not been selected earlier and wait for him to develop.
27. Tampa Bay
Rocco Grimaldi (C). Grimaldi has been featured in many magazines as a huge talent, but his size will drop him to the late first round or a second round selection. The five foot, six-inch, 163 pounder has a ton of offensive talent and is strong with the puck so he needs a team to believe in him and select him despite his diminutive size. He will play for North Dakota so that will give his draft team plenty of time to watch his development. Tampa Bay could also use a goaltender so it would not be a surprise if they grabbed Christopher Gibson or Jordan Binnington at this spot.
28. San Jose
Lucas Lessio (LW) Lessio is a speedy winger who fit in nicely with the Oshawa Generals this past season. Lessio is likely to project to be a third line player at this stage of his development and that could be a nice pick at this time as he is hard working player with some size and will be able to score on occasion.
Dmitri Jaskin (RW) The one word that best describes Jaskin's style of play is passionate. He finishes his hits, he fights his way to the net, and he uses his body well. He has a quick release and knows how to protect the puck. The only question mark surrounding this Czech forward is his skating as he lacks a quick burst. His competitive nature is hard to come by, and if he can improve his skating, he will become a prospect with a very high ceiling.
(via Boston) Tyler Biggs (RW). Biggs is a typical Brian Burke player. He is big (just look at his name) and chippy. What he may lack is scoring ability and that should force him down the draft board in the first round. He managed to score seven goals and 11 points in 20 games this season for the United States Developmental under-18 team. He will likely play for Miami University next season and continue his development.
Other possible first round selections: Alexander Khokhlachev (C), Matt Puempel (LW), David Musil (D), Mario Lucia (LW), Scott Mayfield (D), Phillip Daneault (LW), Daniel Catenacci (C), Christopher Gibson (G), Jordan Binnington (G), Oscar Klefbom (D).